National Religious Party



National Religious Party

National Religious Party

 Founded in 1956

The National Religious Party (NRP), known in Hebrew as the "Mafdal," was founded in 1956 as a union of the Mizrahi and the HaPoel HaMizrahi, two veteran parties with roots in Israel dating back to the British Mandate. The collaboration between these two parties began in 1955, when they ran on a joint list called the National Religious Front. A year later they merged completely, running under the National Religious Party name for the first time in the elections for the fourth Knesset in 1959.


The merger of the two factions blurred the class distinction that had set off the workers from the bourgeoisie in the religious Zionist community. The main issue that occupied the party from 1956 to 1967 was the question of religion and state. After the Six Day War, the party's image changed, as it began incorporating a national security agenda into its position, which was closer to the position of the right-wing parties than to that of Mapai, the National Religious Party's historic partner. Young members of the National Religious Party pushed for the party to adopt the principles of "the Greater Land of Israel" and of one state between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean. They also called for maintaining a united Jerusalem and for Jewish settlement in all areas of the Land of Israel. At the same time, the NRP defined itself as a party with a social agenda. Its position on social issues is complex, as it supports welfare policy and social legislation on the one hand and supports strengthening the private sector on the other.


The NRP ran independently from the 1959 elections through the 2003 elections. Before the 2006 elections, due to concern the party would fail to pass the electoral threshold, it ran on a joint list with the National Union (Ha-ichud Haleumi). The joint list received nine seats, only three of which went to the NRP. In late 2008, the party voted to voluntarily disband, as part of a process that was intended to unite all of the religious Zionist parties. This effort failed, and in the 2009 elections the National Religious Party ran under the name Habayit Hayehudi (Jewish Home).

Election Year Votes Count Number Of Seats Share Of Votes List Of Candidates Platform
2003 132,370 6 4.2 Candidates Candidates
1999 140,307 5 4.2 Candidates Candidates
1996 240,271 9 7.9 Candidates Candidates
1992 129,663 6 5.0 Candidates Candidates
1988 89,720 5 3.9 Platform Platform
1984 73,530 4 3.5 Candidates Candidates
1981 95,232 6 4.9 Candidates Candidates
1977 160,787 12 9.2 Candidates Candidates
1973 130,349 10 8.3 Candidates Candidates
1969 133,238 12 9.7 Candidates Candidates
1965 107,966 11 8.9 Candidates Candidates
1961 98,786 12 9.8 Candidates Candidates Platform Platform
1959 95,581 12 9.9 Candidates Candidates

Note that the candidates and platforms in this table are in Hebrew.

Haim-Moshe Shapira, Yosef Burg, Zevulun Hammer, Itshak Levy

The National Religious Party participated in almost all Israeli governments that were formed since the party was founded. Until the eighth Knesset, the NRP was a consistent partner in the governments headed by Mapai (which later became the Alignment), and held the Welfare, Interior, and Religious Affairs portfolios in those governments. After the political "upheaval" of 1977, the NRP took part in the Likud governments that were formed from 1977 to 1984 and held the portfolios of Religious Affairs, Interior, and Education. The National Religious Party was also a partner in the three national unity governments that were formed between 1984 and 1990. During that period, the party held the Ministry of Religious Affairs and had a minister without portfolio. After the 1990 “dirty trick”—a failed attempt by Shimon Peres to overthrow Yitzhak Shamir's government during the 12th Knesset—NRP received the Education Ministry and the Religious Affairs portfolio in the new government that Shamir subsequently formed. After serving in the opposition during the Rabin and Peres governments (1992–1996), the NRP returned to serving in the ruling coalition in the governments of Netanyahu, Barak, and Sharon. It left the Barak and Sharon governments due to political differences.